Is Bovada Legal? State-By-State Guide

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It’s been a few years since the U.S. Supreme Court repealed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA)—a federal ban on sports betting nationwide, besides a few states. PASPA's abolition opened the floodgates for online sports betting, with a flurry of states (30+ currently) legalizing the activity ever since.

Offshore sportsbooks already had a foothold in the U.S. market before PASPA’s repeal, giving them an edge in the ensuing sports betting gold rush. Overseas betting operators have been offering services to American players since the early 2000s and have built up a strong following over the years.

Bovada is the most recognizable brand among U.S. offshore books. It still holds a significant market share and is a go-to platform in states without legalized online betting. Unlike domestic licensed sites such as BetMGM, PointsBet, and FanDuel, Bovada is based in Latin America and does not fall under U.S. regulatory oversight.

By targeting U.S.-based players, Bovada violates the Wire Act, a six-decade-old federal law that criminalizes interstate sports betting. The reason why Bovada is able to skirt the law and operate in the States is that the American government has little to no jurisdiction over foreign companies.

By law, Bovada is illegal in the United States. However, it is still possible to play in most states, though bettors should be wary of using the platform and other unlicensed sites operating in regulatory limbo.

It was not that long ago that the Department of Justice shut down three major poker sites in an event dubbed “Black Friday.” Millions of dollars in player funds were lost in the raid, serving as a cautionary tale to bettors interested in playing at unregulated sportsbooks.

Unsuspecting U.S. bettors frequently misunderstand the legal status of offshore sites like Bovada. These conundrums primarily stem from the ambiguous language in gambling-related statutes and vague definitions of their application. Here, we’ll clear up any confusion regarding Bovada’s legality and provide a state-by-state rundown of the laws governing offshore betting.

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States Where You Can Use Bovada Even Though It Isn’t Legal

Since Bovada operates in a gray area, it has a wider reach than any regulated U.S. sportsbook. Players from most states can access Bovada except for Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, and Nevada.

While Bovada accepts registrations from players in 45 states, that doesn't mean it’s legal there. In fact, it's quite the opposite—the company breaks both the Wire Act and the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act by accepting bets from abroad and processing illegal transactions.

Below is the breakdown of Bovada’s legal status for each state:

Is Bovada Safe?

Not quite. It looks like Bovada is generally paying its winners, but some users have reported stalled payouts on Reddit and other betting forums.

Furthermore, Bovada has faced a number of legal issues throughout its turbulent history. Calvin Ayre and three other Bodog (Bovada's predecessor) executives were charged in 2012 with illegal gambling and money laundering. Eventually, Bodog retreated from the United States and changed ownership. The Bovada brand was created as an offshoot for the U.S. market while Bodog left the country permanently.

Aside from its questionable reputation, Bovada offers little to no consumer protection. If you have a dispute with the company, you won't have anyone to turn to for resolution. Since offshore operators report to no U.S. authorities, you won’t receive protection.

Last but not least, the federal government may decide to pursue offshore operators at any moment, and who says you won't lose your money in the process?

>> Want to See Legal & Licensed Options? Check Out Our Best Online Sportsbooks Guide

Dave Rathmanner

Dave Rathmanner is the Founder & CEO of Odds Assist. After struggling to find helpful sports betting resources and honest reviews when he first started betting, he decided to create the site he always wished he had. Dave has been betting on sports since NJ legalized it in 2018 and regularly analyzes sportsbooks to find the best options for bettors. Aside from creating new content for OA readers, Dave is also passionate about researching betting markets, creating models, and developing profitable betting strategies.